Creating Columbus: 1875-1895

200 Arts and Cultural Moments that Shaped the City’s History

By
From the February 2, 2012 edition

1875

Iron Buggy Company opens along High Street

Looking to make his fortune, entrepreneur C.D. Firestone opens a small buggy production facility. It’s soon renamed Columbus Buggy Company, and it grows into the largest such business in the world. More than two dozen competitors open by 1900, and Columbus is christened the “Buggy Capital of the World.”

1876

North End Market opens

The public food hub is launched at 29 Spruce St. — site of an old cemetery — and begins a long, intriguing history. It burns down in 1948, reopens in a Quonset hut and gains a national reputation in the ’80s. It’s eventually renamed the North Market.

Circa 1878

Professor Mendenhall calls his students

Thomas Mendenhall and his Ohio State students install the state’s first telephone line. It runs from his laboratory to his living quarters on High Street. 

Circa 1878

Clarence Darrow passes the bar … kind of

The famous lawyer from Kinsman travels to Columbus to take the bar exam on a Monday, but gets drunk and wakes up on Tuesday. However, the man he meets and charms during his bender is his test proctor, who declares Darrow a lawyer in good standing on the spot.

1878

Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts registers charter

The pioneering Columbus gallery, later to become the Columbus Museum of Art, is the first museum in Ohio to register with the state. It blossoms into a pioneering arts organization.

1879

Columbus Art School founded

The school is founded as an adjunct to the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts and hosts its first classes in a building near North High and Long streets. It adopts the name Columbus College of Art & Design in 1959 and becomes independent of the museum in 1981.

1880

James Poindexter elected

The abolitionist and politician becomes the first black candidate elected to the Columbus City Council. In 1940, Poindexter Village — one of the first federal metropolitan housing projects — is named in his honor.

1880s

Entertainment abounds at Comstock’s Opera House

Located on High Street, this venue hosts lectures, plays, operas, readings and other performances. Oscar Wilde discusses art in 1882, and Mark Twain reads from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in 1885. Comstock’s perishes in an 1892 fire.

1882

George Bellows born

The city’s most celebrated painter is born on Aug. 19 (or Aug. 12, according to some sources). He later attends Ohio State and chooses to pursue art in New York City instead of playing pro baseball.

1883

Ed “Dummy” Dundon enters the majors

Dundon, a pitcher, is the first pro baseball player from Columbus. Because he’s deaf, he’s unable to hear calls of “ball” or “strike” at the plate. Umpires adopt special hand signals that become a permanent part of the game.

1886

J. Fred Schmidt opens meat-packing plant south of Downtown

The German immigrant gains local and regional acclaim for sausages, wursts and other meats. In 1967, his grandson opens the Schmidt’s Sausage Haus restaurant around the corner from the plant.

1887

Nation’s first concession stand opens at Recreation Park II

Entrepreneur Harry Stevens acquires rights to sell mid-game snacks at the ballpark located in German Village. Among his menu items: Vidalia onions and tripe.

1888

Arches erected Downtown

Wooden arches with gas lights emerge Downtown, and they dazzle roughly 300,000 visitors during an event commemorating the creation of the Northwest Territory. Columbus earns the nickname “Arch City.”

1890

Electric streetcars come to Columbus

Units operated by the Glenwood and Greenlawn Street Railway Company begin running along West Broad Street. Replacing horse-drawn cars, this upgraded system of mass transit knits together many Columbus neighborhoods. However, buses and trolley coaches replace all streetcars by 1948.

1890

Ohio State plays first home football game

Though primarily a baseball facility, Recreation Park II in German Village hosts OSU football’s first home game. On Nov. 1, the hometown heroes lose to Wooster, 64-0.

1891

Era of interurban rail dawns in Central Ohio

The first local line is the Columbus and Westerville Railway. For roughly 40 years, fast railcars known as interurbans link Columbus with burgeoning cities like Urbana, Newark and Grove City.

1894

James Thurber born

On Dec. 8, one of America’s greatest humorists is born Downtown. In 1927, Thurber begins working as an editor at The New Yorker, where his cartoons and stories reach millions.

1894

Daniel Burnham designs city’s first skyscraper

Complete with 11 floors, the Wyandotte Building carves out the first piece of the Columbus skyline. One of two local buildings designed by the renowned Chicago architect, it costs $200,000 to construct and is occupied initially by state workers.

1895

Franklin County’s first amusement park opens

Minerva Park celebrates the first of seven summers with gardens, a water slide called Shoot the Chutes, the Scenic Railway roller coaster, a bird museum, swimming, boating, baseball and other attractions.

1895

Palm House built at Franklin Park

Modeled after the Glass Palace at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the windowed structure is an early Columbus landmark.

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